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The first time I saw a picture of my darling nephew, he was making the thumbs-up sign in an ultrasound image. Close to the time of his delivery, my sister asked, “If he comes in the middle of the night, should I call you?” I answered, “Every other woman does!” This was literally true, since my husband’s an obstetrician. We laughed, and then dashed to the hospital at the appointed hour.
Even as a two-year-old, Lucius had uncanny coordination. My husband and I took him for an outing to a nearby park and he ran down a gentle hill. When we saw him trip, we ran to pick him up, but watched, astonished, as he used those strong little legs to right himself before we had to. In a way, it’s no surprise that he turned my sister into a soccer-Mom and is about to embark on a professional soccer camp. He’ll be graduating from high school next month, and we’ll be bursting our buttons when he takes his diploma.
If I had to use one word to describe the presence of this marvelous boy in all our lives, the word would be “magical.” When he was small, sometimes I’d see a flash of blond dashing past and for a moment I’d be a child again myself, playing with my yellow-haired sister. I’d watch him follow my husband up the trail to “Uncle Larry’s Cave” and for a moment catch a glimpse of what my father must’ve looked like as a boy. And because he’s here, I’ll always have the magical experience of sharing lineage and legacy with the next generation.
The primary magic is my sister, who seems to dance on air while swimming underwater. She’s a gifted actress with a stunningly successful career, her latest triumphs including her recurring roles in Homeland and The Office. But she accomplishes this between homework assignments and soccer practices. She’s a breathtaking chanteuse with a fabulous new CD Midnight Caravan, and she sings all over the country, somehow scheduling her performances but also finding time to take her son on an adventure trip to China, then managing to decorate Christmas trees and cook up various family feasts.
Being an aunt is a little bit like being a magical being. I appear and disappear, turn up with gifts and help out with celebrations. I truly felt the magic when I gave him his graduation present: a visit to a bank to set up his first accounts. If I’m a good aunt, it’s because I learned how from my beloved Aunt Madelon. She’s so much like her sister, my mother. And yet somehow she’s also entirely different. With sons of her own, she has her primary role as mother to her own family. But for me and my sister, she is always the magical being who looks and sounds so uncannily familiar, and brings to us pure, sparkling love. I hope I can be that for my nephew. I’m not sure who I’d be if Lucius weren’t here, but I know I’d be less than I am.
When I think of women I want to honor this mother’s day, my sister is high on the list, because she’s pulled off the greatest magic-trick of all: she has raised a wonderful son. He’s really using his head these days, figuring out the first chapter of the bigger life that’s about to commence. But in the rare moments when I can sit down with him as Auntie Mara, it’s pure love, heart-to-heart.
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